5 Quick Ways to Optimize Gmail Today

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April 14, 2015

1. Get a Preview Pane in Gmail

Row upon row of subject lines in your inbox doesn’t tell you much about what the emails are about. If you’ve ever worked with Outlook, you’re familiar with the preview pane, where you can see the first paragraph or so of your emails.

In Gmail you can get this overview too. Click the gear icon at the top right of your inbox, choose settings and go to the Labs tab.

Don’t be put off by the warning that features might break, change or disappear. Preview has been there for quite a long time and I have never had any trouble with it. Either search for preview pane, or scroll down a little, and choose enable next to Preview Pane. Don’t forget to click save changes at the top of the list, and there you go, a preview pane to add some context to your inbox.

2. ‘Unsend’ Your Email

Lately it seems your reply has to be out the door before you received the email. We don’t always take time to check for mistakes or missing parts. And right when you hit the send button, that exact second, is when you notice the typo in the recipients name, the weird word order after changing that one sentence, the the repetition you overlooked, or the attachment you forgot to add. And by then it’s too late… …

or is it?

Go to Labs again in your Gmail Settings, search for and enable “ Undo Send ”. Now hurry to your composer to send an email. Feel free to type with your eyes closed. After you hit Send, you still have 10 seconds to open them and click the “ Undo ” function you’ll now find in between “Your message has been sent.” and “View message”.

Gmail undo send

3. Organize Your Inbox with Labels

Gmail sorts your inbox for you in Primary, Social and Promotion emails. You can also click the star in front of every email to collect them in your starred inbox. While that’s a good start to keep my emails organized, it’s not quite enough for me. That’s why I use my own labels , too.

When you click the icon indicated below you’ll get a list of all your labels as well as the ability to manage them and add new ones. This also works in your inbox or when composing a message.

Gmail labels

Labels actually do all the work that folders do, but with the added bonus that you can add more than one to a message. An invitation for a family get-together can have the labels Family and Invitation. A work email can be labeled Work, To Do, Read Later,…

Your labels will be listed on the left. Click the little arrow on the right for more options:

Gmail inbox labels

4. Save Time with Canned Responses

Think about the emails you send on a daily basis. How much time do you spend typing the same thing over and over again? Let me save you the trouble of calculating and get right to the solution: canned responses! You can also find them in the Labs tab of your Gmail Settings.

When enabled, you can simply add sentences or entire messages you often use and insert them in any mail. Give your canned response a name to easily retrieve it (e.g. “Congratulations!”) and with one click your email can be good to go. Quite the time saver!

Canned responses in Gmail

5. Insert Images

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, but more often then not we want to put those two together. Thankfully, we can - even without having to click or download attachments.

Share a photo inline in Gmail

How I do this, you ask? There are a few ways actually:

1) Insert photo (inline) from Google+, your computer or the web:Add a photo in Gmail

2) Drag and drop a photo into the message composer:Insert a photo in Gmail

3) Copy a photo and paste it in your email.

If you click the inserted photo you can change the size or remove it.

Since the maximum file size for an inline image is 25MB , it’s good to know you can insert larger images as an attachment. Either follow number 1 above and choose “as attachment” or click the “Attach files” icon: Add an attachment in Gmail

Read more about the Gmail labs on the Official Gmail Blog and more importantly: check out which other labs can make your life easier!

Written by Annelien Van Uytsel